Soapstone Countertops: Why Soapstone is the Best Choice for Your Kitchen
Soapstone is my favorite material for countertops. I don’t think I’ll ever put up any other kind of meter for the rest of my life. These are the reasons:
– Soapstone is non-porous which means it cannot stain and does not have to be sealed unlike granite which can stain.
– Soapstone will not crack if placed in an extremely hot pot as it dissipates heat extremely well. Remember the black soapstone countertops in your chemistry lab?
– The soapstone has a matte finish. It integrates with the rest of the kitchen instead of being the center of attention.
– Soapstone is easy to maintain. Scratches can be sanded by hand.
– Soapstone will last a lifetime. Have you ever seen a 200 year old farmhouse? Most likely, the counters are soapstone.
Soapstone does not stain
Many countertop materials, such as granite, must be sealed to prevent staining. Soapstone does not have that problem due to its density (20 pounds / square foot); It just won’t absorb fluids, which means you don’t have to take care of it.
Scratches are easily removed
Soapstone, although very dense, is also soft to the touch (ground soapstone is talc). It is smooth enough that it can be scratched with your fingernail. While some people may see this as a problem, I see it as a benefit as you can get a piece of fine sandpaper or steel wool and rub it in.
Maintain and grease the soapstone countertop
Soapstone can be greased with mineral oil to intensify the grays in black and highlight the veins of color in the stone. The only time I oil it is two days before a party, as I hate cleaning counters. I really only did this for the first year until the oils from people’s hands naturally darkened the stone and it was no longer necessary. Since soapstone is very dense, it will not absorb applied mineral oil or body oils, but over time and in multiple applications it will form a molecular bond with the surface. Over time, the bond degrades and oil needs to be reapplied, unless, of course, the countertop is used and touched heavily on a daily basis. This is different than granite that a sealer will absorb.
The recommended lubrication schedule for soapstone is as follows:
– 3 times a week during the first month
– 2 times a week during the second month
– Once a week during the third month
– As needed after the third month to maintain color.
Application of mineral oil should be done with a soft cloth or paper towel. Make sure you don’t apply too much oil! You want enough to change the color.
Let it sit overnight and then with a clean cloth wipe off excess mineral oil until dry.
As you can see, maintaining the oiled look is a one to two day process. I think it looks great both ways, which is why only party oil. Images on the Craftsman Home Remodeling Blog show soapstone right after installation. It has never had oil and is very light gray in color. The latest images show the same counter just three days after greasing and it is a rich matte charcoal color with shiny caramel and green streaks.
It should be noted that occasional lubrication a few times a year keeps the counter in a shade roughly midway between the two extremes until sufficient normal use maintains the look.